I feel like this word can be defined in many different ways. To some it has a negative connotation and to others it has a positive one. I had the word ‘Surrender’ tattooed on my forearm in 2013 after committing to my spiritual journey. I remember saying ‘I want it to face me so I can see it every day, especially during my yoga practice.’
When I first got that tattoo people would always ask me what it meant for me. My definition at the time was “to accept what you cannot change.” From time to time someone would respond, “but doesn’t that mean giving up?” and I would gently respond, “not to me.” Something I have really come to terms with over the years is that everyone experiences life so differently, which is what creates opinions and beliefs. It makes sense that some people see “surrender” as negative, especially if they tied it to “giving up” or “losing.” That doesn’t feel so good. Based on my life experience though, surrendering has been a positive mindfulness practice.
“To accept what you cannot change” is still very relevant though my definition has blossomed much over the years. My meaning of ‘surrender’ has grown as life shifts. Currently I define it as “accepting all that life offers you and moving through it with an open heart.” I believe that once we surrender to a situation then we can work on accepting it. If you cannot accept what life is offering you — you will have a hard time moving through it.
To clarify, the word ‘surrender’ is not always appropriately used. If you are being harassed by a coworker, I don’t recommend “surrendering” to that person. I recommend standing the f*ck up for yourself and speaking out and “surrendering” to the fact that this coworker was put on your path to teach you something valuable about self-worth. I recommend moving through that situation with a wide open heart even if all you want to do is make the perpetrator suffer. I recommend accepting who this person is rather than trying to change them; it is simply not your job to improve anyone. I encourage you to be compassionate towards this person as they likely are harassing you based on their life experience (which is not to be confused with validating their actions). Compassion is boundless and nonjudgmental. Compassion asks for a wide open heart.
Someone wise once asked, “is life happening at you or for you?” and I have always used this during the hardest of times to flip my perspective. When life is happening AT you, you are the victim. When life is happening FOR you, you are the student. When a hard situation presents itself can you surrender to it, accept it, and move through it with an open heart?
When I found out he was dating someone else while dating me, I surrendered.
When I lost close friendships to pursue self love, I surrendered.
When I found out I was pregnant at 24 years old, I surrendered.
When I chose to raise a child on my own, I surrendered.
When my lymph node became extremely infected during my last month of pregnancy and I had to rush to the emergency room, I surrendered.
When I finally acknowledged my financial debt, I surrendered.
When I realize I don’t have everything figured out, I surrender.
Surrendering is a practice. It is mindfulness. Be gentle with yourself as you navigate through it.